A Summary of the Whole Gospel
Saturday January 7, 2023, Christmas Weekday
by Fr. David M. Knight
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Friends, Father Knight insisted to be before he died that he had written a reflection for every day in the liturgical cycle, but on occasion, I simply cannot locate the the daily reflection on his computer. Today is one of those days.
So, not to leave you hanging without words from our dear friend, I am posting today the introduction to his book, A Fresh Look at the Our Father, the last of the books we have so far published. (Father Knight worked on the book until it was completed and ready to be published, but it did not actually come out until after his death.
Father Knight told me, many times, "This is THE BOOK for which I might be remembered - if I am remembered at all." He certainly thought it was his best work. I hope the following introduction touches you and perhaps gets you thinking and praying deeply with the prayer Jesus taught us.
The Our Father: A Summary of the Whole Gospel
As I began my ninetieth year as a Catholic and sixtieth as a priest, I was asked to teach a comprehensive religion course to the novices of the Poor Clare monastery in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.
I saw this as a call to gather together a rich life—almost a hundred years of Catholic living —and condense it all into a few conferences that would sum up everything I have learned about what it means to live as a Christian. A daunting task, but an exciting one! What I found is that everything essential is already summarized in the prayer taught by Jesus himself, the Our Father.
Don’t take my word for this. Tertullian said, “The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel.” St. Augustine agreed: “Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer.” St. Thomas Aquinas added, “The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of prayers….In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also…in what order we should desire them” (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2761–2763).
Jesus originally taught the Our Father as an answer to his disciples’ request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). What he taught them was not a formula of words to be memorized, or even a method of prayer, but a list of things to pray for: what Jesus himself prayed for, lived for, and died for. Effectively, he was saying, If you make my priorities your priorities in your prayer and in your life, you will learn how to pray. And how to live.
Jesus knew that the more we ask God for something, the more we will grow to desire it. So the Our Father is a way to form our hearts to become like the heart of Jesus, longing and living for what he longed and lived for.
But see for yourself. Take a slow look at the Our Father, asking yourself how wonderful it would be if all it asks for were realized in your life—and throughout the world.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry